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VNA of Care New England

Mercury Levels Drop One-Third in Women of Childbearing Age

EPA says women are making more informed seafood choices, not decreasing fish consumption
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 27, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Blood mercury levels in women of childbearing age dropped 34 percent from an initial survey conducted in 1999 to 2000 to follow-up surveys conducted from 2001 to 2010, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The authors of the report, entitled Trends in Blood Mercury Concentrations and Fish Consumption Among U.S. Women of Childbearing Age, analyzed data from the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey regarding the distribution of blood mercury concentration in women of childbearing age and their finfish/shellfish consumption.
The agency found that blood mercury levels in women of childbearing age dropped 34 percent from a survey conducted in 1999 to 2000 to follow-up surveys conducted from 2001 to 2010. Blood methylmercury concentrations in women of childbearing age during the first survey cycle (1999 to 2000) were 1.5 times higher than the average concentration of the five subsequent cycles (2001 to 2010). The average blood mercury concentration changed very little from 2001 to 2010, and remained below levels of concern for health. Additionally, there was a decrease of 65 percent in women of childbearing age with blood mercury levels above the level of concern when comparing the 1999 to 2000 survey and the follow-up surveys. The amount of fish consumed during the survey period did not change much.
"The decrease in the ratio of mercury intake to fish consumed suggests that women may have shifted to eating types of fish with lower mercury concentrations," according to a press release issued by the EPA.
Press Release (http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/bd4379a92ceceeac8525735900400c27/2c509787acba5ed885257c290069faa6!OpenDocument )Report (http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/fishadvisories/upload/Trends-in-Blood-Mercury-Concentrations-and-Fish-Consumption-Among-U-S-Women-of-Childbearing-Age-NHANES-1999-2010.pdf )
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